Ebbsfleet Development Corporation (EDC) commissioned Shared Assets to develop a governance and business model for a new legacy and stewardship body capable of managing the green spaces and community assets arising from the development of Ebbsfleet Garden City, a new town of 15,000 households in Kent. Ebbsfleet was one of ten pilot Healthy New Towns working with NHS England to rethink how health and care services can be delivered.
The new legacy and stewardship body was required to undertake the long-term funding and management of parks, waterways, public spaces, and community buildings, including sports, culture and arts facilities. These aspects would prove critical for the long-term culture, character and identity of the area, and for the delivery of Ebbsfleet’s Garden City and Healthy New Town ambitions.
In undertaking the commission we worked with our partners Vivid Economics to:
- undertake a review of existing documents,
- interview key stakeholders including developers and landowners, local housing associations, and the leaders of Dartford and Gravesham borough councils,
- engage with EDC staff and board members through meetings, conversations, presentations and workshops,
- undertake research into other existing stewardship models in place elsewhere,
- develop options for the governance and legal structure of the new body and test these against agreed criteria to produce an interim options appraisal and final recommended option for the new structure,
- develop a flexible financial model based on a range of data sources, and
- test our thinking with senior EDC staff, the EDC board, and a bespoke panel of experts.
Ebbsfleet Development Corporation has used the work undertaken to agree a way forward with its board and is in the process of commissioning the next stages of work to deliver the stewardship and legacy body. It has also been presented to the ten NHS England Healthy New Town pilots as an example of how the long term management of parks, green spaces, and sports and cultural assets can be delivered in ways that are financially viable and enable local stakeholders to be involved in governance and decision making.
The key challenges encountered during this work were:
- EDC was not the landowner and needed to rely on planning powers and influence to be able to work alongside a county council, two borough councils and one Town council.
- There was a complex range of stakeholders to be engaged across the area, with a wide range of interests and power. This included the aforementioned councils, and approval needed from H.M Treasury and the Ministry of Housing Communities by Local Government to whom EDC was accountable to and funded by.
- EDC retained limited powers to deliver a long-term model meaning that the buy-in of developers, local authorities and residents was critical.
Shared Assets was able to bring an ability to identify the shared objectives of a wide range of stakeholders and apply our expertise in governance and finance models to develop a proposal that was both financially viable and able to be supported by a wide range of stakeholders and ensure that future management is focused on meeting Ebbsfleet’s Garden City ambitions, delivering high quality and consistent management for all residents that delivers shared social, cultural, economic and environmental benefits.